With the signing of Michael Vick this week by the Philadelphia Eagles, the debate of whether Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL rages on. In case you are not aware of the situation, Vick, who was a star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, was recently released from prison after spending nearly two years behind bars as a result of his involvement in illegal dogfighting. He has not played an NFL game since the end of the 2006 season.
In the early days of his case I wrote about Vick and the attention his situation was receiving. At that time he had yet to have been found guilty or sentenced for his crimes. But now that he was served his time and paid his debt to society it seems that the feelings for him (whether good or bad) have not changed much in the public eye.
From my perspective I feel like the acts that he was accused of (and found guilty of) were atrocious and he deserved to be punished. But now that he has done his time I think the man should be given the opportunity to return as a productive member of society. Even as I say that, I don't believe the NFL "owes" it to him to let him be a part of their league. But if a team wants to sign him (as the Eagles have done) I don't believe he should be deprived of the chance to play again.
This is different than, say, a convicted child molester who served ten years in prison and now wants to be an elementary school teacher. What Vick did was horrible but it involved animals, not human beings. With that being said, I also feel that those that are particularly offended by what he did have every right to protest the NFL and picket Philadelphia Eagles games. They should have the freedom to express their displeasure, just as Vick should have the freedom to play. However, my guess is that there are more people that want to see him play than are those that want to deprive him of that chance.
One of the things that I've found interesting with this whole ordeal is that very few of the black people that I know feel as strongly about this as the mainstream population. I don't know what to take from that but I think that it is intriguing that most of the vitriolic comments about Vick have come from those that are not from the African American community.
I also think that there is one reason (and one reason alone) that the Eagles signed him -- it is because they think it will win them more games. There were no altruistic motives about giving somebody a second chance. Vick is a talented football player and that is why he's playing in the NFL again. In fact, it's why anyone ever gets the chance to play at that level.
To be honest, there are some pretty horrible people that play professional sports. There are those that have been involved in murders, wife beaters, rapists, habitual drunk drivers, drug dealers and, yes, those involved in dogfighting. However, Vick, unlike many others, didn't get away with his crimes. He did his time and he should be allowed to play if he's capable.
But even as I say that I'm not really rooting for or against him. I really don't care how he performs on the field although seeing a redeemed Michael Vick emerge would be good to see. As a Christian I believe strongly in forgiveness and second chances. I think the NFL has made the right decision in letting him play. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.